Thursday, August 2, 2018

Is There a Leiberist in the House?

Or, even better, a Fischerian?

I've been trying to sort out which of the early drafts and fragments of Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser stories have been published in recent years. I know about three:

(1) ADEPT'S GAMBIT, by Leiber, a complete early draft of which was published in 2014 with an extensive commentary by H. P. Lovecraft. I have and have read this.

(2) THE GRAIN SHIPS, also by Leiber: a fragment of a novel set in Hellenic times that was eventually reworked and completed by Leiber and published as THE SWORDS OF LANKHMAR. Apparently this fragment was published a few years ago in a collection of misc. writings by L; I've ordered a copy of said book and shd soon have the answer to that one.

(3) QUARMALL, by Harry Fischer. This was eventually taken up by Leiber and used as the core of his THE LORDS OF QUARMALL. What I'd like to know is if Fischer's early version has ever been published, and if so where.

Anyone know the answer to this one?

--John R.
current reading: still the Franklin/Jackson bio.


Magister said...

This may not exactly be an answer to your questions, but Centipede Press are doing the entire Swords series, with bonus material.

For the first book (OOP, alas): "The book includes all of the stories that make up Swords and Deviltry along with two archival essays by Harry O. Fischer, Fritz Leiber’s 1973 introduction, two 'Gray Mouser' poems from The Acolyte, and an interview with Fritz Leiber from 1979. Yes, we will be publishing the entire series of novels, each one with a load of extras. This is the ultimate edition of this legendary fantasy series."

For the second book: "The book includes all of the stories that make up Swords Against Death along with Fritz Leiber’s introduction to Bazaar of the Bizarre, some movie notes by Fritz Leiber, and a rare bonus essay, 'Lankhmar and Lands Around.'"

I think I told Jerad Walters of Fischer's story about the Gray Mouser's youth, so that will probably turn up eventually in the series

Michael Curtis said...

Hi John,

I've been involved in a prolonged period of research into Leiber's F&GM works over the last few years as part of working as line editor on Goodman Games' DCC Lankhmar line of RPG books. I spent a week at the University of Houston last January, working through Fritz's papers.

As far as I know, Harry Otto Fischer's original 10k words of "The Lords of Quarmall" never saw print. The UoH library has photocopies of the first three pages of the story that survived among Leiber's personal papers (typewritten by HOF on General Box Company stationary), but it's only a portion of the original draft. It might easily be that the full version of Fischer's manuscript has been lost or remains in private hands.

Hope this is of some assistance.

Paul W said...

Where was Adepts Gambit published with Lovecraft's commentary? I'd love to read that. :)

John D. Rateliff said...

Dear Paul W.

That one I can answer: it came out as a little book in 2014 from Arcane Wisdom press in an edition of five hundred copies. It's edited by S. T. Joshi, who provides a six-page introduction. Then follows the whole text of the story (about a hundred and fifty pages). Then comes Lovecraft's commentary (about twenty-five pages) and finally some notes (eight pages), a few by Lovecraft but mostly by Joshi.

Thing is, this is not the draft read by Lovecraft (HPL make allusion to a few points that don't appear in this version) but one closely related to it, with a few suggestions made by Lovecraft already taken up.

All in all, definitely worth a look from anyone interested in Leiber, and also offering some insight (not altogether to his advantage) of what Lovecraft was like as a reviser. Recommended.


John D. Rateliff said...

Thanks to all who posted in response to my Leiber query.

Special Thanks to Michael Curtis for the information about fragments of Fischer's work in the HRHRC in Austin --which I've visited twice (they have a spectacular collection of DUNSANY manuscripts) but hadn't known about their Leiber material. Let's hope the Fischer material survives out there somewhere.

I agree with Magister that we're likely to get pretty much everything they can find for the Centipede Press editions.

As for QUARMALL, Doug A. points out in an email that Leiber is v. specific in his introduction to the Ace Bks edition of SWORDS AGAINST WIZARDRY (the fourth vol.) exactly which section come from Fischer's abandoned draft. (thanks Doug)

And just for the record: I've now read THE GRAIN SHIPS which is worthy of a post in itself but NOT a draft of THE SWORDS OF LANKHMAR. It's most extraordinary for having the Emperor Claudius as one of its three main characters and for telling us The Gray Mouser's name: Fafhrd never appears nor is even named.

SYLLA'S DAUGHTER I now have as well: on a quick skim it looks to be just the shipboard section of SWORDS OF LANKHMAR (the first nine or then chapters) published as a stand-along novella.

--in haste, on the eve to my departure for Oxford.
--John R.